Seismic Shift: Former Alice Cooper Band Bassist Erik Scott, Turned Successful, Contemporary New Age Artist

SAN FRANCISCO – American-born bassist, songwriter and producer, Erik “Eski” Scott, has done it all... or at least a lot of it! Since the late 60s, Scott has recorded and toured the world with a wide range of artists and bands. From the zany-pop-rock of Flo & Eddie (of Turtles and Frank Zappa fame), to the legendary camp-rock-spectacle of the Alice Cooper band, to the classic R & B styles of Grammy Award-winning Pops Staples, to the experimental rock-soul-gospel of Sonia Dada, to the radio-pop of Kim Carnes... sprinkle in projects with Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Ted Nugent, Triumph, 60s throw-back-bands Food and Jambalaya and well, you get the idea.


Article by Joe Milliken * Photos courtesy of Erik Scott 1. Portrait 2. Performing with Alice Cooper in 1981. 3. Performing in the 70's with Flo & Eddie at Los Angeles' Roxy Theatre 4. Performing at the 2016 ZMR Award Show in Now Orleans (with Jeff Oster) 5. Scott's award-winning CD In The Company of Clouds

However, along with his four-plus decades of collaboration with others, Scott, since 2008, has also released four albums as a solo artist in the contemporary instrumental/new age genre, including his highly acclaimed 2016 release In The Company Of Clouds, affirming that through the years, Scott’s creativity, ingenuity and openness to new ideas seemingly know no bounds.

Originally from Milwaukee, Scott’s music career began by recording in Chicago with the Northern Illinois-based band Food, before landing in Los Angeles with the band Jambalaya and then teaming up with the former Turtles and Frank Zappa band members Flo & Eddie in 1974. “After breaking into the recording world in the Chicago area from 1969 to 1974, I took my bass and a suitcase to LA, where I had recorded with Jambalaya on an A&M Records release in 1973,” Erik Scott said in an exclusive interview with Standing Room Only.

“Having experienced Los Angeles as a major hub of the music world, I relocated and started playing around town, and I fell in doing sessions at Cherokee Studios, which was still in Chatsworth, California, at the time and where Flo & Eddie had recorded some of their latest album. Mark and Howard called the studio to inquire about some of the lads possibly recording and touring, and that’s how I fell in with them.

“It certainly was a ‘breakthrough’ of sorts, throwing me into the flow of it all. Many major stars of the era would gravitate to the ex-Turtles and Zappa veterans’ shows, especially in Los Angeles and New York City, and extended tours with Jefferson Starship, The Doobie Brothers, and Stephen Stills also allowed me to meet, mix, and learn.”

It was during one of these star-studded, Los Angeles concerts that Scott would first connect with Alice Cooper. “I first met Alice up close, when he and Keith Moon came onstage for the encore at Flo and Eddie’s show at L.A.’s Troubador, on Christmas night in 1974. We did ‘Happy Together’ and then I played 'Wooly Bully' with Moonie and Alice... ha, grand sport! Then six years later, after I returned from a recording experience with Carl Palmer in Munich and London, Duane Hitchings called and said Alice was looking for a new band to tour his Flush The Fashion album. Several of us got the gig, and the Alice adventure commenced.”

As one could imagine, Erik has some great road stories during his time with Alice Cooper, which included recording four albums and multiple tours. "I had just finished co-producing an album by Peter McIan in 1980, so in addition to being Alice's bassist, I started contributing to the production of things when studio activities occurred, including some recording in Paris for a French TV Special, and some recording in London for an EP celebrating a successful tour of the UK in the spring of '82."

“On the ‘live’ front, in 1981 the Special Forces Tour played two nights at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, one of Alice’s ‘hometowns' (the other being Phoenix). One show was on Halloween in rock-loving Detroit, with Alice Cooper and 31,000 boisterous Trick or Treaters. As you might imagine, those two shows were among the more memorable ‘big-rock-shows’ I’ve had the good fortune to play.”

Scott is also a founding member of the Chicago-based, experimental rock/soul/R&B band Sonia Dada. Formed in 1990, the six-to-eight-member band has released six albums and become a staple in the Chicago music scene over the years. Their 1992 self-titled debut album sold over 100,000 copies and peaked at #29 on Billboard’s ‘Heatseekers’ chart in 1993. The album reached #1 on the Australian ARIA chart, the single “You Don’t Treat Me Good” was number one for four weeks, and Sonia Dada toured with the legendary rock band Traffic.

“Dan Pritzker had been writing songs, and when he found the three singers busking in the Chicago subway, he called us together to see what would happen when we played together. Well, the chemistry was so eclectic and diverse - as different members brought the influences of R&B, gospel, rock, jazz, jam bands, and folk, and the performers all had a passionate degree of soul in their playing - that Sonia Dada happened. Dan once said it was like eight guys holding hands and jumping off a building together. Didn’t really know what would happen, but we were all in it together.”

Scott also recorded with R & B legend Pops Staples on his 1994 Grammy Award-winning album Father Father. “I was in a Chicago hotel room for some Sonia Dada recording and a producer friend, who was working with Pops and Mavis (Staples), called and said he was preparing some tracks to present to Pops for possible inclusion on his upcoming album. So, I went over to his studio, and wrote a very simple musical track, simple but with a deep groove. That was it.

“A week or so later the producer called back, said he had presented five tracks to Pops and Mavis and that they liked mine, 'that one with the bass drag' on it. They started writing lyrics, and it became “Father Father,” the title cut on his Grammy-winning album for ‘Best Contemporary Blues’ album.”

Along with all these accomplishments, Scott has also contributed music for movies and television as well. “In 1978, a friend in Los Angeles said that Spelling-Goldberg TV needed two hours of original source music for each of the season debuts for Starsky and Hutch and Charlie’s Angels, and they needed it in two weeks! It was the height of disco, and the music needed to be danceable in that vein. Well, I didn’t operate in that genre much, but as a session player and career music maker, I said sure, I can do that.

“I called a friend, keyboard player, Peter McIan, whose album I was playing on and co-producing at the time (we go back to the Jambalaya days in Northern Illinois), and we just started composing instrumental music for the shows. Anytime you see the good guys chasing a killer thru a busy disco, they were playing our stuff! (laughing) They also used our material in episodes of Vegas and Loveboat.” Some of Sonia Dada’s music has appeared in films as well, including Nothing To Lose starring Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence, the National Lampoon movies featuring Chevy Chase and Waterproof featuring Burt Reynolds."

Around 2009, Scott’s musical direction made a seismic shift from recording and touring rock bassist, to free-form, new age solo artist. He began composing all these ideas and melodies in his head, but with a new direction, creating this atmospheric, ethereal music full of ingenuity and ambiance. “After almost forty years of recording and touring, the band I had been in exclusively for 15 years and six albums stopped, (Sonia Dada) and I found myself alone in my home studio in Antioch Illinois, having moved back to the Chicago area because of Chicago-based Sonia Dada."

Scott mostly plays his self-described fretted, 1964 Fender “Frankenbass“ on the recording. “I just started experimenting. I have always had many melodic ideas, but in my composing and productions these were always mostly given to the traditionally melodic instruments: guitars, keyboards, horns... so, I started by playing these melodic ideas on the bass, in the upper registers, with effects also traditionally used by the melodic instruments. Experimentally, banjo parts became chordal bass parts, and melodically voiced parts were often reviewed initially as ‘really interesting guitar sounds.’

“I have learned to hunt-and-peck enough to record my own keyboard ideas, and I learned to program drum and percussion parts long ago, in order to convey my compositional ideas. So, I play melodic parts on fretless, more conventional parts on fretted, and sing guide vocals if I need them. It was only me in the studio, so I couldn’t really perform convincing ensemble jams that require multiple musicians to interact together. However, I could make this more open and laid back, melodically driven instrumental music.

“I always add and/or duet with another instrument to keep the sound from becoming static, and steel guitar with John Pirruccello is a favorite partner. Sometimes I paint with acoustic guitar, piano, or even lately, gospel voices, to enable me to texture the music in a compelling variety of shifting flavors.”

After releasing his debut solo album, Other Planets in 2009, (which had been described as ‘more Pink Floyd than Jaco Pastorius, a composer as much as a bass player while extracting sensuous melodies’) Scott fell ill to cancer, received treatment, and also did some traveling, before returning to the music world in 2014 with And The Earth Bleeds and Spirits, which is a re-mix of his first two solo albums.

“Being forced to confront a potentially lethal sickness like cancer can force you to really examine your priorities, hopes, and accomplishments... future and past. If you have not done it yet, you realize that life will end... come to find out, that we are not immortal and there is no time to waste. ‘What do I want to do, what do I need to do... how can I best use the time I have left, and what alterations do I need to make in my daily life... what can I realistically do?’

“So, I try not to put anything off until later, ya know? Activities, events, recordings, many things take on more meaning, because how many more times will I have this opportunity? Complete and release an original recording? Tell someone you love them? The list goes on...”

In 2016, Scott returned with a vengeance and his fourth solo album, the aforementioned, critically-acclaimed and award-winning In The Company of Clouds. “Inspired by life, soul born, and played from the heart,” the album is a very personal musical expression written, performed, recorded, engineered and mixed by Scott, (with additional recording assistance from Rick Barnes and Tom Size) an exercise in exploring complex melodies and uplifting ambiance revolving around mostly fretless bass and steel guitar. Other guest appearances included the aforementioned Pirruccello, Steve Hunter, Jeff Pearce, Chris Cameron, Phil Miller, Larry Batiste, Sandy Griffith, Bryan Dyer, Shawn Christopher, Yvonne Gage, Renee Robinson, John Mader, Kevin Hayes, Hank Guaglianone and Rick Barnes.

“As music mirrors the moods of its makers, it can lift and soothe the moods and minds of the listeners,” Scott stated in a press release. “And so, I hope these offerings will lift some hearts, warm some souls and smooth out some edges.”

The album drew much attention, twice reaching number one on the Zone Music Reporter (ZMR) Airplay chart and was voted “Album of the Year” and “Best Contemporary Instrumental Album” at the 2017 ZMR Awards concert in New Orleans. In The Company of Clouds also reached number one on the syndicated radio show Echoes.org, and has received multiple stellar reviews from various music media outlets including Music Media & Focus, Hearts of Space, and the aforementioned Echoes.

With the success of his last release, Scott looks toward the future with simple goals in mind. “Right now, I’m trying to make the best recording I ever can... a goal I generally would carry into any project, but I didn’t usually think about it that way. Now I do. I’m just trying to live life to the fullest and best way I can, keep the other members of my family, spouse Micki and dog Pooka happy... and deal with things as they come.” Sounds like a strong plan.

In The Company of Clouds is available in physical and digital formats and can be found in the major online music stores CDBaby and Amazon, and on all digital music outlets. Also learn more about the amazing career of Erik “Eski” Scott at http://erikscottbass.com.